Open source Softimage!

New plugins, tools etc.
BitPuffin
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Joined: 06 Mar 2015, 19:22

Open source Softimage!

Post by BitPuffin » 07 Mar 2015, 15:29

Hello!

I am new on this forum and also new to Softimage! :D

I am well aware that AD murdered Softimage and that made me really sad, even though I wasn't a user.
However, I have heard good things about Softimage, even from people that don't really use it but have used it
at some point and found it really impressive (mainly because of ICE). So I have decided to start learning Softimage
to gather inspiration for making my own 3D tools that I plan to make in the future.

That being said I had this idea of that, as I'm learning how to use Softimage, maybe I should also learn how to implement
the things that Softimage offers. That way I'll have great experience when I finally do go about making my own tools, and
as a bonus, I could help preserve the legacy what appears to be one of the (if not the) best 3D tool out there.

So, I sort of semi-started last night to make my an open source implementation of Softimage that can't be bought or sold
by some large corporation. My time is pretty damn limited so I probably won't be going very fast, as of now I'm still just working
on getting a window open with an OpenGL context, hehe.

I really think this is what the soft community should be aiming for, not walking away from it in tears, but instead taking charge
and make it truly under the control of the users!

The reason I am making this post, is, however, not to start hyping everybody up that there will definitely be an open source
Softimage that you can use soon. I can not promise that, for me this is primarily a small research project. A small reason is to
inspire the community to eventually get involved. At least after the initial boilerplate stuff is solid and after I've written up style
guidelines etc. The most important reason however, is that I want feedback! I want to know which features of Softimage you think
are amazing, which ones that need work, which ones that suck and probably should be omitted in a fresh start etc. Tell me what makes
Softimage Softimage to you!
And point out the warts. Also please offer an explanation of what the features actually do as I am very
much still a mega n00b when it comes to soft (I have however used Maya and Blender quite a bit in the past).

My impression so far is that what makes Softimage great is how well you can overview the structure of a scene and ICE. Something
that appears like a downside is Mentalray (I didn't enjoy it in Maya at least), which I can't incorperate anyway as it is proprietary.

Some misc technical details for those who are interested in eventually contributing (code) to the project:
  • License: CC0 (Creative Commons 0 Attribution) = Public Domain. Don't suggest anything else because I dont' like copyright, and I don't like GPL. CC0 is the best public domain "license".
  • Language: Pedantically modern style C++14 (looks quite different from typical C++, with auto and types on the right etc, never calling new/delete unless I'm optimizing shared memory. This is part of my research).
  • Compiler: Clang, even on Windows. This is because it's the only one that works well everywhere and it has great tools for debugging and finding horrible bugs. I don't want to be arsed with being portable to other compilers, time is scarce as it is.
  • (D)VCS: Mercurial.
  • Repo URL: https://bitbucket.org/opensoft3d/opensoft3d/overview
Again, I want to be clear that I can not promise that this project will go far as this is something I'm doing for reseach in my limited spare time. However, I do believe that feedback and encouragement and involvement will make this a very fun project to work on!

Cheers!

caledonian_tartan
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Joined: 17 Feb 2010, 15:13

Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by caledonian_tartan » 07 Mar 2015, 18:27

Hello BitPuffin

and welcome to the Softimage Community!

i think many of us have some thoughts about "THE" perfect, superficial DCC.
I can not promise that this project will go far
You probably will be confronted with the fact,

that it may take the Team AND therefore Budget of at least a AAA Game Title to even consider to start to build the "All-the-best-of-Softimage-Houdini-Maya-Modo-Max-Cinema... zbrush... ...

in an "appropriate" time. let's say yesterday.

our "beloved" and now fortunately abandoned master called Autodesk, does rather kill hope and invest to continue two old fashioned DCC than creating a new one.

having unimaginable funds they don't dare to start with this. it's still like a worm trying to build a car.

fortunately there are some clever dudes already doing it. IMHO, please consider to provide your energy to help them.

i'm not involved in their project more than a common user, or actually currently an alpha user. but beeing confronted with tighter deadlines and less understanding from egoistic customers,

i think WE have to join force. as strange as this might sound, going for an open source intention seems to make much more sense than paying for expensive promises.

Thinking about the Softimage Short Film (Reboot), i think it would be a great contribution too, to create a REAL comprehensive List of "the demands of the ultimative DCC".

Thight and Smart
SI 2015 @ WIN7-64

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mc_axe
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Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by mc_axe » 07 Mar 2015, 18:46

\m/ \m/

I go start learning code to help you :-B
well no maybe, but if this effort go well in the future (even if the chances are rly rly small) i will definitely try to bring some good developers in it.

I think SI is gr8 because of UI/ speed/ inheritance / hierarchy/ reliability/ and ofcourse because ppl can make addons scripts compounds etc.

Btw you can alrdy start exploring the explorer. :D for a start or even the xsi sdk explorer ctrl shift 4
Just start with a simple cube and its properties.
I think is a good way to get quickly a first impression for how much work is required. Its definitely a titanic task even for simple stuff.
I might be worthless in coding but i can definitely provide a list for improvements.

BitPuffin
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Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by BitPuffin » 07 Mar 2015, 18:54

Hello caledonian_tartan! Thank you for your reply and welcoming attitude :)
caledonian_tartan wrote: having unimaginable funds they don't dare to start with this. it's still like a worm trying to build a car.
Indeed! However I do not believe that this is because they couldn't afford the time investment, I think for them it's actually a risk/reward thing, where they only see profit. No big studio who already has Maya tightly integrated in their pipeline is going to switch to softimage or a softimage wannabe. And why would Autodesk care if they would? They can pump out the same release of Maya year after year and bathe in the cash B-).
caledonian_tartan wrote: fortunately there are some clever dudes already doing it. IMHO, please consider to provide your energy to help them.
I briefly checked your link at it seems like these guys are building on top of Fabric engine. As far as I could dig out, it appears that Fabric Engine is not open source. Therefore, in (not too unlikely) theory, AD (or some other corp) could buy that, and kill it as well. I also couldn't figure out if that project you linked to is open source either. However, I think Fabric engine not being open source is reason enough to possibly not trust its longevity. Not to dismiss the great work they are doing at all though. It seems cool!
caledonian_tartan wrote: i think WE have to join force. as strange as this might sound, going for an open source intention seems to make much more sense than paying for expensive promises.
Indeed!

All in all, I don't think I need to be the ultimate DCC yesterday. As I said, for me this is primarily a research project. However I do think (or at least hope) that it can gain enough momentum to be used by Softimage users along with real Softimage and other DCCs in its infant state.
caledonian_tartan wrote: Thinking about the Softimage Short Film (Reboot), i think it would be a great contribution too, to create a REAL comprehensive List of "the demands of the ultimative DCC".
Yeah, I think in general people need to take the time to document parts of their production pipeline that cause friction, as well as documenting the ones that enable them to work fast!

Cheers!

BitPuffin
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Joined: 06 Mar 2015, 19:22

Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by BitPuffin » 07 Mar 2015, 19:03

Hello mc_axe, thank you for the response!

If you want to learn I'd be happy to point you in the right direction on where to learn C++ etc and answer your questions best I can :D

But yes I definitely think it would be good with contributions eventually, probably not in the beginning though as there is a lot of boilerplate stuff that needs to be done and I think having multiple developers doing that would probably just lead to a bunch of bikeshedding. However, when the architecture is more set up so that people can work on modular components individually it would be extremely valuable to have people contribute!

I'm glad you provided me with some commentns on what you like about SI! It would be really helpful if you elaborated a little bit as well! For instance, what do you like about the UI? What do you mean by speed? Do you mean that you can be very productive in it, if so, why do you think that is? Or, do you mean because the application performs well, if so, I intend to ensure that this one performs well already :D. Etc!

I will check out the explorer thing ASAP! And I will also try to RTFM about it. Thanks!

Cheers!

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mc_axe
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Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by mc_axe » 07 Mar 2015, 21:04

what do you like about the UI?
Ok ill talk about the default UI. First of all i like it because it is minimal. Back in the days i went from the colorful maya (full of icons) to Soft . I disliked it at start, but then i realized this is in favor of workflow speed. I realized that soft is for the best, and the best artists don't need beautiful icons, but a minimal yet powerful UI that lets em all the space to create beautiful works.

The default arrangement of the tools is gr8. While in the middle you can have a wider and maybe taller view port than other apps. And centered to your screen horizontally.

I like how different sectors (modeling/rendering/simulation etc)change completely the left toolbar and colors depending on the sector.
That way you can focus, and also if you setting up a scene, you can understand when you are on the wrong sector, even with the edge of your eye you can understand colors. Thats why also gray is gr8 for a UI ;) .

I like that any window of any property is independent and can be pinned, so it will stay up regardless if you open something else. Keeping property windows pinned on the screen saves actually alot of time.
What do you mean by speed?
As i said above workflow becomes fast because of UI arrangement, because of independent windows but also because of tools shortcuts right click menus in the view port, simple hierarchy sorted in a pretty neat explorer. And i can go on and on .

But also
SI performs realy well in heavy scenes studios are rly happy with it. So it must have some crazy architecture and superb memory management.

BitPuffin
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Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by BitPuffin » 07 Mar 2015, 22:46

Thank you for elaborating mc_axe! I think you actually managed to open my eyes to a few things that I didn't realize at first with the gray UI! It is actually pretty good at eliminating distractions. I find blender to be similar in that way but soft has a slightly different approach that might be a bit more friendly.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by right click menus in the viewport, when I right click it only does some kind of selection hehe.

Regarding performance I think what they actually did was to have a sane architecture :D This is a thing that is much harder to pull of than an insane one.

Again thank you for your description! I know it's hard to explain why you like something but it's actually incredibly useful and interesting to read.

Cheers!

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csaez
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Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by csaez » 08 Mar 2015, 07:34

Why not contribute to an existing open source project instead?
Creating a full DCC from scratch is a gigantic project! I'm pretty sure your contributions would be gladly accepted in any existing project (e.g. Blender!?).

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Hirazi Blue
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Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by Hirazi Blue » 08 Mar 2015, 11:16

IMHO: what Blender needs isn't more developers, what it really needs is some healthy competition.
As such I can only applaud any effort at coding at full DCC, however unrealistic it may be,
to stir up the open source 3d world even a little.
;)
...

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csaez
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Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by csaez » 08 Mar 2015, 11:46

Why compete in an open source world when you can directly help to fix things in the project (and they are really open to accept contributions)?
if you want to move cool ideas from Softimage to another software, I think Blender is a great platform to do it... everyone wins!

Competition is healthy when it comes to propietary software, but when you have acces to the source code and the community support it becomes somehow pointless.

If you don't want to be tied to the Blender brand or the project direction just fork the project! but please don't start from scratch.

My two cents,
Cheers!

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Hirazi Blue
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Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by Hirazi Blue » 08 Mar 2015, 11:56

As Blender has been gobbling up all interesting developments in OSS 3D over the last couple of years, moulding them into Blender's way of doing things (in a rather Autodeskian fashion), I respectfully disagree. Blender isn't merely an open source 3d project, it has de facto become the only one. And monopolies, even of the open source variety, are bad in my book.
...

BitPuffin
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Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by BitPuffin » 08 Mar 2015, 18:31

Healthy competition is extremely valuable in the open source world as well. You definitely do need it. Take for instance btrfs vs ZFS. BSDs vs Linux. The BSDs versus each other, the linux distributions vs each other. X11 vs Mir vs Wayland. There is lots of instances where some healthy competition has been nothing but good.

I have many reasons not to work with Blender. One is an ideological (and probably somewhat childish in many eyes) reason - GPL.
But the main one is that the reason I'm doing this is to learn how to build 3D tools. I could learn things from studying Blender's source code but
a) I really don't like reading other people's code (who does?)
b) The knowledge doesn't stick nearly as well as when you actually do it and figure things out on your own.

Another thing is that I wanted this product to feel comfortable for SoftImage users. I don't think Blender (or any of the proprietary alternatives) feel much like softimage. And it's not like SoftImage users are too dumb to learn those tools, but I think they were attracted to SoftImage for a reason. As I'm learning SoftImage I try to figure out what :)

EDIT:

Another thing, Blender has a reeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaally long history. This is cool. But that probably means there is some stinky parts in Blender's architecture that are hard to remedy (just a suspicion, I don't have any proof of this). I wanted to experiment in this project to try and write it with a very modern programming style using modern language features etc. Mainly because I'm curious as to how well these work out!

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csaez
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Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by csaez » 08 Mar 2015, 22:17

BitPuffin wrote:Healthy competition is extremely valuable in the open source world as well. You definitely do need it. Take for instance btrfs vs ZFS. BSDs vs Linux. The BSDs versus each other, the linux distributions vs each other. X11 vs Mir vs Wayland. There is lots of instances where some healthy competition has been nothing but good.
Wait a sec... BSD isn't open source (maybe you're refering to freeBSD?), in the other hand all Linux distribution are based in 5 main distros and there's a lot of forking in the mix, at the end, the "competition" has to do with a matter of taste when chosing the different components of the system (that's why I love arch linux). Wayland/Mir are not a competitors to X11 but its sucesor... and it has been an extremely controversial topic, the same was true for upstart vs systemd (no many FOSS people like Canonical approach).

I think you are missunderstanding the meaning of open source.


Anyways... good luck with the project.

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FXDude
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Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by FXDude » 09 Mar 2015, 02:11

BitPuffin wrote:Healthy competition is extremely valuable in the open source world as well. You definitely do need it. Take for instance btrfs vs ZFS. BSDs vs Linux. The BSDs versus each other, the linux distributions vs each other. X11 vs Mir vs Wayland. There is lots of instances where some healthy competition has been nothing but good.
Indeed, we all saw that in recent developments of game engines.

Otherwise for your project, if not using Blender code, you would have to find some shortcuts by using some premade libraries,

Just having talked talking about the wish for a Fabric DCC, with Paul making it clear that perhaps a 3rd party could do it but not them,
so perhaps you could be that 3rd party? :)

I wonder how many worked on Natron (the Nuke open source Clone)

BitPuffin
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Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by BitPuffin » 09 Mar 2015, 03:38

csaez wrote: Wait a sec... BSD isn't open source (maybe you're refering to freeBSD?)
BSD (at least in their community) is well understood as referring to the different open source ones, as they are the only ones that are still active. Such as FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, DragonflyBSD.

About the distros you are ignoring a lot of the smaller distros that aren't based on one of the main ones (such as crux or morpheus). Regardless, even if there were only 2 "main" bases these would still be competing. The main ones have competing package formats and managers and they are not just different in taste but also have a lot of distro-specific software packages that compete (which could be integrated in the other distro too if they wanted of course). If you want another clear example of healthy competition in the open source world you have GCC vs LLVM/Clang which has caused GCC to improve vastly the last years and Clang to improve a lot in response to that. You also ignored a lot of the other examples I presented, maybe you didn't know what they are? A lot of the Wayland devs are working on X11 sure, but Mir is competition to wayland. I omitted upstart and systemd as even canonical has given up on upstart so it's not really relevant.

The difference is the open source world is that sometimes the competitors can borrow code or at least use each other's implementations of the best idea as reference.
csaez wrote: I think you are missunderstanding the meaning of open source.
Please :D
csaez wrote: Anyways... good luck with the project.
Cheers mate! :)
FXDude wrote: Otherwise for your project, if not using Blender code, you would have to find some shortcuts by using some premade libraries,
Yeah perhaps! So far I'm purposefully avoiding library dependencies because I want to try things first (mainly so that I'm not juggling things that I don't know how they work) before I integrate a premade solution. But I can certainly see myself probably integrating some libraries. For example Bullet for physics simulation or Cycles (blender's Apache licensed Path Tracing renderer) to fill in some gaps. At the very least as placeholders and/or options!
FXDude wrote: Just having talked talking about the wish for a Fabric DCC, with Paul making it clear that perhaps a 3rd party could do it but not them,
so perhaps you could be that 3rd party? :)
Don't know! As far as I can tell Fabric isn't open source so I would be cautious to spend my effort with it. I'd love to be proven wrong though :-?.

Either way, as a reminder: as I mentioned in my initial post I'm not sure how far I will take this as it is just research/playing around to me. What I do want to do is to remind people that starting these kind of things are feasible and you can control and build the tools you want to use. You'll get there much faster if you start doing it rather than thinking about if it's doable or not. Of course it is! Or it wouldn't have existed in the first place. So if the only thing I achieve is inspire someone to work on a softimage application (or any kind of DCC) then I consider it a huge success!

Cheers everyone :-bd

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Hirazi Blue
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Re: Open source Softimage!

Post by Hirazi Blue » 09 Mar 2015, 12:22

One thing I wanted to add to the mix is that to me Softimage perfectly shows that a well-designed workflow trumps a rich feature set anytime. Nothing in Softimage, not even ICE, is as important as this seemingly effortless workflow between its constituent parts. Having looked at Maya, its feature set is way more impressive, but its workflow is ridiculous IMHO. That's why I returned to Softimage swiftly after my failed attempts at using Maya.

Oh and not to invoke the wrath of the Maya crowd: very much IMHO, obviously.... ;)
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